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EMSF committee happy with virtual outing, expect to raise at least $25K

The first virtual version of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival was so well received, organizers are looking at incorporating aspects of it into an expected return to an in-person event next year.

They’re also doing a tally of fundraising efforts, and expecting to have at least $25,000 to distribute to various charities in the region. The virtual version ran April 9-10.

“From our point of view, we think it went very well,” EMSF committee co-chair Doug McLean said this week.

Between the sale of do-it-yourself-festival pancake boxes, sponsorships and other sales, the fundraising portion of the event remained strong, he said.

“We’re looking at somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000, we hope. There are still some bills to come in. If so, that’s about where we were last year.”

The 2020 festival was cancelled outright, scheduled to take place just at the COVID-19 pandemic was prompting lockdowns in the province. With sponsorships and other community supports already in place, the committee was able to disperse about $35,000 to 18 organizations, McLean said.

“We did about as well as we could do this year.”

The EMSF committee was so pleased, it’s looking at continuing on with some of the virtual elements next year.

“It would be really nice to get past this COVID situation and return to an in-person, out for a rite of spring festival. That would be so good,” he said.

This year’s virtual outing, which included an online sugar bush tour, virtual taffy display and virtual mall, worked well thanks to the festival volunteers and the community support, McLean added.

“Everyone was so supportive. We know this community is full of good people.”

One new addition likely be repeated is the pancake box. The committee made up 500 boxes filled with pancake mix, local maple syrup, coffee and hot chocolate, a spatula and a festival toque, among other goodies. The packages quickly sold out at $50 apiece, catching McLean somewhat by surprise.

“To me, 500 was going to be a stretch, but clearly it wasn’t,” he said, indicating there might be room to make more next year if the committee decides to go that route. “We may very well do.”

Also selling well is the collectible toy, this year a red 1958 Plymouth Fury in the 1:43 scale, decaled with the festival logo. While not yet sold out, the item has been in demand, he said.

Every little bit helps the committee to raise money for a variety of charitable and community groups. Grant requests are already coming in, with cheques likely to be going out in early June.

“I think we succeeded in producing what we needed to produce,” said McLean.

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